Courtney Barnett Tell Me How You Really Feel (Mom + Pop/Marathon Artists/Milk!) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #63 - Courtney BarnettCourtney Barnett

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Mom + Pop/Marathon Artists/Milk!

May 17, 2018 Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett Bookmark and Share

“I’m not your mother! I’m not your bitch!” drools Courtney Barnett on the opening to the sixth track of Tell Me How You Really Feel. Her voice is devoid of any expression, but, with her distinctive Australian twang, it’s still unmistakably hers.

Once she hits the climax“It’s all the same/Never change, never change”the track (also titled “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch”) takes with it the punk inflections which crept in on 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, and runs away with them. As with every Barnett song, her lyrical sincerity lingers. This is Barnett declaring her strength and independence, as she strides towards a raucous guitar strut with just as much brashness as her fans have come to expect.

Tell Me How You Really Feel is everything one would expect from the Sydney-born garage-rocker, following 2013’s The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, her 2015 debut LP proper and last year’s Lotta Sea Lice, a collaborative album with Kurt Vile. It’s full of incessantly catchy guitar riffs; a keen, driving rhythm section; and the unparalleled witty lyrics with which Barnett made her name. But it also bursts with more contradictions and a wider variety of personal intimacies than ever before.

“City Looks Pretty” fills a similar space as earlier singles “History Eraser” or “Aqua Profunda!” It blasts along with a warm fuzziness, but there’s also an undercurrent of anxiety, which Barnett approaches with a healthy attitude, attempting to consider life’s upsides too. For every “Friend [who] treats you like a stranger,” there’s a “Stranger [who] treats you like their best friend/Oh well.”

It’s not all fuzzy guitar pedals and burgeoning drums. “Walkin’ on Eggshells” sees Barnett include clunky Wurlitzer piano, a brightness which adds a real contrast to the otherwise questionably sombre track. There’s an undercurrent of melancholy in near everything Barnett sings, her voice an ever-thoughtful response to day-to-day mundanities. Most poignant is “Sunday Roast,” the album’s most delicately-laced track. With it, Barnett combats episodes of self-doubt, speaking as though giving advice to a friend, though it’s just as likely she’s advising herself. “I know you’re doing your best/I think you’re doing just fine” becomes a gorgeous swell of a phrase, reaching out and spreading into a joyful anthem of everyone looking out for each other: “I know all your stories, but I’ll listen to them again.” Now this is honest, kind-hearted intelligence. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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